Kowalczyk Shows No Sign of Fatigue in Convincing Win

Topher SabotJanuary 24, 20094

Otepaa, Estoina – Justyna Kowalczyk (POL), coming off a strong showing in Whistler, showed no ill effects from the travel, skiing to an impressive 26 second victory in the women’s 10km classic World Cup. Kowalczyk won the 15km pursuit in Whistler, and finished second in the individual sprint. Only a handful of racers from the Whistler events competed in Estonia, and non fared better than Kowalczyk. She held a 4 second lead at the 2.3 km mark and skied away from there.

“Otepää is my best track,” said Kowalczyk after the race. “I really love fighting on the hard track and when you have good skis and a nice crowd it’s wonderful. My tactics were to go as fast as I could, and it was a successful choice. I don’t have very good speed for sprints but I’m in good shape at the moment so tomorrow we will see.”

Overall World Cup leader, Aino Kaisa Saarinen (FIN) finished second, with teammate and Tour de Ski victor, Virpi Kuitunen another 20 seconds back in third. Kowalczyk climbed into third in the overall World Cup standings, 13 points behind Kuitunen and 104 behind Saarinen. The Polish star has scored World Cup points in every event this season except for the pre-Christmas sprint in Dusseldorf.

“Today’s race was a real fight for me, I couldn’t show my best, but to be on the podium with that kind of form is really satisfying,” said Kuitunen. “The week after the Tour de Ski I had to rest, I was only able to swim and do some light exercises to get my heel ok again. Then I had a good training week in Rovaniemi, but did not train very hard before the this race. My main goal is World Championships and it is very important to be healthy in Liberec. I will see after Sunday’s sprint how my heel is doing and then decide whether to go to Rybinsk or not.”

The top 10 featured all the usual suspects in the women’s field. Petra Majdic (SLO) was fourth, 5.2 seconds behind Kuitunen, and Theresse Johaug (NOR) edged teammate Marit Bjoergen by .4 seconds for 5th.

Saarinen did not have her best performance either, saying, “My race today was OK, although I couldn’t get my best speed in the final kilometers, and to show my real power. I can ski better. I expected a podium place and even win, because 10 km classic is my best distance. But Justyna was better today.”

Majdic started slowly, ranking 15th at 2.3 kilometers, but made her way up in the standings as the race progressed. This was Bjoergen’s first World Cup start since a disastrous final climb in the Tour de Ski.

Charlotte Kalla (SWE) appears to be back on track after illness forced her to skip the Tour de Ski. She finished 9th today.

The women’s field has shown much less volatility than the men’s this year, with the same skiers routinely placing in the top 5.

American Kikkan Randall was the lone North American starter, finishing just outside the points in 33rd. She was only 8 seconds out of the 30 in her second distance start of the year. This was Randall’s second-best distance result of her career, behind her 23rd earlier this season. FIS points-wise, the result today was on par with her distance results of last season.

While very few men who raced in Whistler competed today, quite a few women doubled up, Randall included. Kowalczyk was clearly the most successful, but Britta Norgren (SWE) and Kaerina Smutna (AUT) finished 14th and 18th respectively.

Racing continues tomorrow with a 1.2km individual classic sprint. Randall will again be the lone North American representative.

Women’s 10km Classic – Complete Results

Topher Sabot

Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.

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  • norbert

    January 24, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    why is Kowalczyk not showing any signs of fatigue?

  • FasterSkier

    January 26, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Kowalczyk has started every World Cup race except for one, including the events in Whistler, with great success. No other World Cup athlete has scored points in as many races this season, and very few World Cup distance racers participated in Whistler and Otepaa. As to why she isn’t showing any fatigue, I have no idea, but she is clearly very fit and very fast.

  • norbert

    January 28, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    is it true KIowalczyk was suspended for 2 years following a doping infraction at the U-23 championships in Salt Lake City?

  • FasterSkier

    January 28, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Kowalczyk was suspended for doping violations during the 2005 U23 Championships. Her initial suspension was for two years, but was later reduced to one, allowing her to compete in the 2006 Olympic Games. Her suspension was for taking the banned substance dexamethason.

    FIS Newsflash reported in July of 2005:

    “Subsequent to the decision of the FIS Doping Panel it was brought to the attention of the International Ski Federation (FIS) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that since the substance Dexamethason is a Glucocorticosteroid, it is classified as a Specified Substance on the WADA List of Prohibited Substances and Methods and therefore the period of Ineligibility for the first violation shall be at a minimum, a warning and reprimand and no Period of Ineligibility from future Events, and at a maximum, one (1) year’s Ineligibility.”

    FIS Newsflash reported in December of 2005:

    “The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has decided that the decision rendered by the FIS Doping Panel in relation to the case against Justyna Kowalczyk (POL) will be replaced by a de novo decision on the merits of the case. Kowalczyk has served her period of suspension as the period of ineligibility imposed upon Kowalczyk began on 23rd January 2005 and ended on 8th
    December 2005. Additionally Kowalczyk (POL) was disqualified from all individual results obtained in the U23 OPA Intercontinental Cup Competition held on 23 January 2005.”

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